I made the cones and needles out of chocolate, and I wanted to share the method that I used, since it gave a more realistic pine cone than the methods I've seen before. This is the finished cake...The icing was a pale ice blue with bands of blue chocolate at the base of the tiers.
When I see tutorials on how to make pine cones, they always start with making a cone shape out of fondant or marzipan, then sticking slivered almonds into the cone. If you look at a real pine cone, though, that isn't how they're shaped. The scales, which are the "leaves" so to speak, are attached to the center stem, and the size of the scales themselves is what gives the cone its shape. The center stem isn't cone shaped, it's fairly cylindrical.
So, I decided to try it a different way. I piped a bunch of chocolate scales and let them cool off. The trick to this, though, was that I heated the chocolate up way too much, in order to make it bloom when it cooled off. The bloom is the powdery look that chocolate gets when it hasn't been tempered correctly. For pine cones, I wanted a rough, woody look, so the bloom was what I wanted in this case.
When they cooled off, I shaped some center stems from chocolate clay and started attaching the scales with melted chocolate. When they cooled off I turned them over and did the other side so that they were actually cone-shaped.
After the cones were completely cooled off, I used some meringue powder dissolved in water to attach sugar to the ends of the scales for the sugared look.
And this is the final product, with the chocolate pine needles also added. I like the way that these cones look, as opposed to the usual way that I see them done. Everyone at the reception site came over to look at them because they looked so realistic, and I was very happy with how the cake turned out.